Covington, Kentucky

Covington Re-Use Center Saves Items from Bishop's Mansion

As the city waits for another piece of its historic architecture to come crumbling down any day now, the Covington Re-Use Center is stepping up in hopes that it can salvage at least pieces of it and similar places in the future.

The so-called Bishop's Mansion at Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Madison Avenue is slated for demolition to make way for a new Walgreens. Gary Dawson and his team from the Re-Use Center did not have much notice of the impending demo when they showed up at the site asking if they could salvage whatever may be salvageable.

It's something that Dawson thinks his 4-year old enterprise could do more frequently. "We want to become the clearinghouse for this stuff," Dawson said.

While it would have been a more fruitful salvage had the team had a couple weeks, the few hours they were able to spend inside the nineteenth-century Victorian style mansion turned up some treasures that are potentially valuable to homeowners seeking to restore period elements to their own homes.

Dawson said that the majority of the items removed from the Bishop's Mansion were wood, such as doors and trim. The team also removed door knobs and hinges as well as several claws from claw-foot tubs. He explained that some of the more coveted items such as chandeliers and fireplace mantles had been long-gone, though the team was able to rescue a couple windows with glass that survived from the Victorian age. 

They also retrieved a large pocket door that was quickly scooped up by the BLDG, a Covington business on Pike Street that plans to use it as a conference room table.

The re-purposing of the salvaged items is what Dawson believes will keep them moving off the shelves of his facility on East Fifteenth Street. "We want to harvest anything that is from the era," he said. "Anything vintage is getting more and more scarce and you just can't replace this stuff."

One important piece that was salvageable but wasn't because of a lack of time was the cherry wood floors, Dawson said.

The Covington Re-Use Center uses this message on its website: "Keeping building materials out of landfills and saving you money!" Its sprawling warehouse is full of cabinetry, sinks, doors, and more, including unique items like the menu board from the shuttered Movie Gallery. 

In addition to saving materials, the center aims to change lives as well, hiring individuals in need of a fresh start or second chance and preparing them for the workforce through the affiliated Re-Set Ministries.

While Dawson and his team have developed a reputation for salvaging quality materials from construction sites, he hopes to do more collections from historic properties facing the wrecking ball. Next week he'll visit a century-old mansion in Loveland, Ohio in hopes of removing and re-selling vintage items.

Dawson will also soon meet with the City of Covington about being the go-to firm for such efforts. The prices will remain reasonable for treasure hunters and rehabbers. "We have to make our investment back," Dawson said. "This is very labor intensive but we want to make sure it's affordable."

While most items collected are placed in their specific sections of the warehouse, the pieces collected from the Bishop's mansion will be specially set aside. "People will want this stuff, it's part of history," he said. "They'll know where this came from."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photos of the items collected from the Bishop's Mansion:

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